I have decided to pick up where Monday’s blog left off. The following story has always been one of my favorites coming out of the first Christians to flee into the deserts in the early 4th century. If you have not read Monday’s post go here and then come back.
Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my Little Office. I fast a little. I pray. I meditate. I live in peace and as far as I can. I purify my thoughts. What else am I to do?” “What else,” Abba Lot says, “can I do?” Then the old man stood up, stretched his hands towards heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”
There are many stories of this fire and it is not unique to the Christian Tradition but we see it more in Orthodoxy than in the West. There is a great picture of St. John of San Francisco that seems to capture this light.
Elder Paisios of Holy Mount Athos in Greece told a story about incident with Uncreated Light while praying the Jesus Prayer in his cell one night.
“I was gradually possessed by a heavenly joy. Simultaneously, my cell, whose darkness was interrupted only by the trembling flame of a candle, was filled with a beautiful white-blue light. At the beginning, the light was very strong. … I stayed in my cell for many hours, losing sense of all earthly things and living in a spiritual world, very different from this one.
While being in this state of the Uncreated Light and heavenly experience, I lost all sense of time.
At one point the Uncreated Light started to fade away and I was back to my old state of being. I began to feel hungry, so I took a piece of bread to eat. Then, I was thirsty… Further down from my cell, another monk was residing. I looked outside and had the impression it was still night with a full moon. I went outside and asked him, “What time is it? It seems that dawn has not broken yet?” The monk looked astonished and asked me, “What did you say Father Paisios? I don’t understand.”
Only then did I realize what had happened. It was ten in the morning and the “full moon” I thought I had seen was the sun. The Uncreated Light was so strong that it made daylight and the sun look like night with a full moon.